It's Prime-Time for Attending an RV Show and Buying an RV

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It's the time of year to buy an RV. For many Americans, thoughts are turning to summer vacations, and for many, their ticket to ride is a recreational vehicle. Across America, RV shows are packing in crowds. Almost 100 shows are scheduled from now through April. Attending an RV show is perhaps the best way for an aspiring RVer to learn about RVs and the lifestyle.

It's the time of year to buy an RV. For many Americans, thoughts are turning to summer vacations, and for many, their ticket to ride is a recreational vehicle.

Across America, RV shows are packing in crowds. Almost 100 shows are scheduled from now through April. Attending an RV show is perhaps the best way for an aspiring RVer to learn about RVs and the lifestyle. Hundreds of motorhomes, trailers and fifth wheels are typically on display with price tags of most between $5,000 and $200,000.

RVing expert Chuck Woodbury urges buyers to use caution at RV shows, and not make a buying mistake that could haunt them later.

"When someone decides to buy an RV there's a huge emotional reaction going on," said Woodbury, host of the Better Business Bureau DVD "Buying a Recreational Vehicle" and author of the eBook "Buying an RV the Smart Way." Both are available at RVbookstore.com (http://www.RVbookstore.com).

"My advice to aspiring RVers is to take their time when buying," explained Woodbury, who is also the editor of RVtravel.com (http://www.RVtravel.com), an RV portal site with more than 750,000 readers a month.

"Many aspiring RVers, especially couples, get very excited about the idea of RVing," he said. "And then at an RV show they step into an RV and they start daydreaming of all the adventures they can have. They can get overwhelmed with enthusiasm and might decide to make a purchase right there and then, and that's seldom a good idea."

"There's a lot of pressure from sales people at an RV show to sell right on the spot," explained Woodbury. "The fact is, the same deals are almost always available a week or two later back at the dealership. Yes, there may be some exceptional deals at the show, but buying impulsively is the best way to ensure not getting one. I advise, at the very least, for a buyer to sleep overnight on a purchase decision."

People who buy impulsively often don't buy the right coach, he said. "The RV may look pretty, but many buyers don't take the time to inspect everything. I've heard stories of tall guys who found out too late they couldn't even stand up straight their new RV's shower because it wasn't high enough."

Woodbury said some buyers never even lie down on the bed or recline on the couch. "With inexpensive RVs the beds can be equipped with cheap mattress that are terribly uncomfortable," he said. "Buyers need to lie down for a few minutes, and ask themselves 'Can I sleep on this?'"

Some buyers, said Woodbury, don't pay attention to details in the kitchen. "You need to look at counter space. Some RVs have plenty but others have none. And where are the cupboards? Are they easy to reach? Are there enough of them?"

Woodbury said that stretching out payments too long can be a mistake. "The minute a buyer drives off a dealer's lot, the RV depreciates about 25 percent," he said. "If someone finances the RV for 20 years with little or no down payment, they can owe far more on a coach than it's worth if they decide to sell it within a few years. It is not uncommon for a seller to need to come up with $10,000 or $20,000 out of his pocket just to unload a coach."

Buying a used RV is often a good idea, said Woodbury, but he advises that a buyer should always have the coach inspected by a certified RV technician and mechanic. "Water damage may be hard to spot," he said. "It can literally rot away the frame, and it's very costly to repair." Woodbury said that there are many excellent bargains on used RVs, but it can take patience to find one.

Woodbury, 59, has owned RVs for more than 25 years, and calls himself a "cheerleader" for the RV lifestyle. "It's a wonderful way to travel," he said. "You go where you want, when you want, and you never have to unpack a suitcase." But because he has observed so many people make buying mistakes, Woodbury now spends much of his time educating aspiring RVers about buying an RV the right way. "By doing a little homework and taking their time, buyers can end up with a magic carpet that will lead to wonderful adventures," he said.

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CHUCK WOODBURY
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